Effect of sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.) variety and harvest maturity on quality, yield, and condensed tannin content

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.) is a forage legume that was introduced to North America from Europe and Asia. Unlike alfalfa, sainfoin is non-bloating, lacks autotoxicity properties, and may work as an anthelmintic when consumed by livestock. With limited information available on sainfoin varieties and management, new information is necessary to provide to producers for optimal production. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of variety and maturity at harvest on forage yield, quality, and condensed tannin content. Four varieties of sainfoin ('AAC Mountainview', 'Eski', 'Shoshone', and 'Delaney') and one alfalfa variety ('Shaw') were planted at two locations in Montana and the same sainfoin varieties and one alfalfa variety ('Spredor 4') were planted in one location in Utah. Samples were taken at 10, 50 and 100% bloom and evaluated for dry matter production and nutritive quality. Variety (P < or = 0.005) and maturity (P < or = 0.001) both were found to impact production, with Shaw, AAC Mountainview and Eski varieties having higher production, as well as tonnage increasing with advancing maturity than Delaney and Shoshone. Sainfoin had greater levels of condensed tannins than alfalfa (P < or = 0.001), and within sainfoin, tannin content decreased with increasing maturity (P < or = 0.003) at all locations. Crude protein levels were significantly different for maturity (P < 0.001) and variety (P < or = 0.003), and fiber values were only affected by maturity (P < or = 0.001). These results demonstrate that sainfoin is a beneficial legume to feed to livestock particularly in grazing situations, with similar quality and yield compared to alfalfa, as well as a higher condensed tannin content.




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